Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Top 3 Japanese Politicians I despise the most

I would be the first to admit that I hardly live and breathe Japanese politics, but as I am currently living here with an eye to keep doing so long-term I do keep an eye on what is going on through the news. It hardly helps that Japanese politics is an awful muddled mess of parties, factions within parties and new parties with names that push the boundaries of sanity. 
In this depressive day and age it is unfortunately hard to find much to like about national Japanese politics and very few politicians that stand out as dependable and likable. On the other hand, there are quite a few rubs me the wrong way when they show up on the news... Without further ado, here comes the list of the top three Japanese politicians that I despise the most!


1. Ichiro Ozawa - Former LDP, former DPJ, current Chairman of "The People's life Comes first Party"


Maria is cuter
When it comes to Ozawa's history I admit to being ignorant to him until the DPJ ousted for LDP party out of power and Hatoyama became prime minister of Japan in 2009. It does seem like he has been around the block, so to speak, and a major player in Japanese politics since the beginning of the year 2000 with a past in the LDP before jumping to the DPJ and then now finally creating the new party with the ridiculous name of "The People's life Comes first Party" (yes, it sounds equally stupid in Japanese).

The reason why Ozawa makes the top of the list is a combination of things. First of all, he both look and act the part of the archetype of an old Japanese career politician. The type that milks it for all it's worth and working more to make his way up the ladder than serving the people that elected him in the first place. Although his path to power has been littered with minor scandals and accusations of embezzlement in various forms, he has managed to dodge the bullet every single time and weasel his way back into the top layer of Japanese politics.


In more recent times, he made the news often due to his opposition to the new leadership of the DPJ after the resignation of Hatoyama. From what I can understand, there was no lack of backstabbing and scheming from either camp inside the DPJ but I still find it highly distasteful that a senior official in a party publicly goes against the party leadership, particularly post the March 2011 earthquake disaster when unification was needed the most. Of course one should not stay in a party if one's belief in the policy is gone, but the correct way to do things is to voice criticisms internally and then resign if the situation is not possible to affect. This is what Ozawa did (
finally, about at least a year too late) when he finally left the DPJ with his homies and created the awfully named new party.

But I guess the main reason why I dislike Ozawa is his smug face. The small redeeming factor here was that when I googled for "Ozawa" images in Japanese 99.9% of the hits that came up was from famous half-Japanese porn-star Maria Ozawa which was easier on the eye than Ichiro Ozawa's smug face.



2. Toru Hashimoto - Mayor of Osaka


He's PISSED OFF because he's right and everyone else are ALWAYS WRONG
Toru Hashimoto first came to fame in Japan as part of a panel of lawyers in a Japanese TV show hosted by the now infamous Shinsuke Shimada (see here for the mess surrounding him). When I first came to Japan, I admit to watching the show occasionally and finding it reasonably amusing. In the first couple of years the show focused on actual feasible situations and what the legal implications/consequences could be, filtered through the all-present celebrity guests and then given the verdict from a panel of four lawyers out of which Hashimoto was one.

I stopped watching the show as the focus started to shift from actual cases to more and more ridiculous scenarios and larger focus on the celebrity guests. The times it was on when I flipped through the channels I quickly got annoyed by Shimada's overbearing presence and moved on to the next channel. In the show, I did not particularly despise Hashimoto, he actually seemed quite reasonable although a bit annoying. For a few years I did not see or hear anything about Hashimoto until he became Mayor of the second largest city in Japan; Osaka. 


To his credit, I should at least give him that he's not a typical career politician from a family of politicians and I do get the impression that he at least tries to act in the best interest of the voters. Some people also seem to appreciate that he's very outspoken, (
relatively) young and different compared to the old-school politicians in Japan.
As I do not live in Osaka and therefore his policies does affect me very little and I have very little detailed insight nor interest in those. 

The reason why he comes so high in the ranking is his extremely obnoxious attitude in press conferences and how condescending and self righteous he behaves. There seem to be some strong inferior complex at work and I find it very hard to trust people like that. He has been surrounded by some minor controversies around his policies, the most recent his aggressive condemnation of people with tattoo's working as officials of the city of Osaka. I can personally understand the reasoning why it might not be suitable to have tattoo's in some positions in Japan where tattoo's still are quite strongly associated with organised crime and delinquency, but the way he basically branded everyone with tattoo's as a lower form of people in his press conference before he launched an investigation of the state of the bodies of the city officials in Osaka just felt very badly handled.




3. Shinjiro Koizumi - Elected Member of the House of Representatives


Would you buy a car from him?
Shinjiro is small fry in comparison to Ozawa and Hashimoto clocking in at 31 years of age and still not a real power in national politics, but gets quite the bit of attention as he is the son of former LDP prime minister Junichiro Koizumi (the guy with the funky gray hair who served as prime minister from 2002-2006 after which Japan started to change prime minster on a yearly basis...). The Koizumi family has politics running in their blood with a long line of politicians in their family tree. It should be said that although I never was a huge Junichiro Koizumi fan, I still think that he did not do too bad compared to some of the people before him and at least there was some degree of consistency to politics back in his day.

So why do I despise Koizumi Jnr then? Well, he just comes off as an attention seeking career politician. Every line he says when interviewed comes off as being rehearsed beforehand (
which, on the other hand, when considering some of the more outrageous things that many major Japanese politicians has thrown out during interviews might not be such a bad thing after all...), including pause for increased drama and a more general self-righteous attitude just rubs me the wrong way. Also, that he is for sure groomed for major positions in the future due to his politican lineage just feels wrong to me...


(Dis)Honorable Mention - Shintaro Ishihara - Governor of Tokyo


If you read Japanese this is even more amusing
Ishihara is a loon. Whatever good he might actually do from time to time will always be overshadowed by his many outrageous, insulting and downright bizarre statements that he gladly throws around. These statements have been reported so many times that I will not waste your time and my energy in repeating them (just google him if you don't know him before).

So why does he not get a higher position in this ranking? Well, I think that most people know that he is a bit of a loon and just tend to disregard that part of him. The only reason I can see for him being reelected last year was that the people of Tokyo felt more comfortable with the Devil they knew than any of the newcomers that ran against him. I also think that there's a feeling of "Sure, he's a loon, but he's our loon!".



There you have it! The top three Japanese politicians that I personally despise the most! If you haven't figured it out, take it with a fistful of salt and enjoy their appearances on tv! 

8 comments:

David said...

"Maria is cuter" - heh heh :D

kamo said...

Can't disagree with any of this. I even concur about Ishihara being a bit of an exception. Although my reasoning is that while they're all loons of the first degree, Ishihara does at least look like a kindly old grandpa. All the others have faces best described as 'punchable.'

kathrynoh said...

Hashimoto - didn't he have to 'fess up to having an affair for 2 years with a hostess dressed in flight attendants uniform. I do love the flight attendant uniform part of that story, and considering it's Japanese politics, am surprised it wasn't a schoolgirl uniform.

Will said...

And to think, they are the best.

Persianxrose said...

I think it's fitting that Shinjiro's brother is an actor...it's like they have the same job...with that said, at least they are good looking...too bad they the only thing they say are lines they have memorized.

Mr. Salaryman said...

David - Well, you are with me on this, right?

Kamo - Yeah, at least Ishihara gives off a friendly vibe until his mouth opens...

Kathryn - Hmmm... I think you got that one mixed up? As far as I know Hashimoto is actually a real family man with tons of kids... In any case, I'm sure it was a fusion between stewardess and school girl uniform ;)

Will - Japan has a dark future ahead...

Persian - Yep, they are basically in the same line of work it feels like...

kamo said...

Nope, Kathryn's right on this. Apparently he was having it away with this hostess while his wife was pregnant with their 7th (seventh!) kid. If nothing else it's managed to shut him up for a while...

Mr. Salaryman said...

Kathryn&Kamo - Well, there you go, I stand corrected indeed! If anything, it makes me like him a little better if anything ;)

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